6 Things Small Businesses Need to Know About Ecommerce in 2018
So you’re looking to take your first tentative steps into the world of online business? Or perhaps you’re already selling in a physical store and want to make the switch to ecommerce instead?
From industry growth to payment gateways, this article looks at the most recent trends of 2017 and predicts how you can stay ahead of the pack in the industry this coming year.
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#1: The ecommerce industry is still growing, but it’s more competitive than ever.
As a small business owner, you should be prepared to face a lot of competition in the online marketplace.
Don’t go into online business with your rose-tinted glasses on. You will have to work hard to cut through the noise, get noticed and offer products at a price at which people want to buy them.
The increasingly fickle and price-conscious online shopper will force you to streamline your business operations. You’ll need to be able to mark up your product offering at a competitive rate while still maintaining a healthy profit margin.
Of course, the competitive landscape and potential to make a profit will vary depending on your product niche and industry vertical.
#2: Drop shipping can be a real growth-hacker.
If you’re looking to expand your online product range or get your ecommerce store set up fast—and with little investment—drop shipping may just become your best friend.
Drop shipping involves goods that are sold directly from the manufacturer (or wholesaler) to the customer. When you drop ship, you do not need to hold inventory or worry about the logistics of shipping.
This means that you can start a business or expand your stock with next to no investment.
Many online entrepreneurs are taking to drop shipping, as it allows them to earn money from ecommerce while traveling around the world with no strings attached. Could this be something that your small business also needs to embrace?
3#: A multi-platform marketing strategy is the most effective.
Social media. Email marketing. Pay-per-click. Affiliate marketing. SEO. SEM.
All the buzzwords circulating online can cause a business owner to get a little overwhelmed. What is the best way to market your brand?
In 2018, it will be more important than ever to adopt a multi-platform approach that is adaptable and encompasses many of the marketing concepts you’ve been hearing about. Recent studies have shown that campaigns of different types, such as search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC), work best when operating side-by-side.
In other words, you need to be a jack-of-all-trades, with an un-siloed approach to digital marketing, in order to harness the power of online marketing for your business.
#4: The phrase “customer is king” has never been so apt.
With crowd-sourced data and review sites leaving your business open to the criticism (and praise) of the general public, you need to ensure that your customer experience is close to perfect, or your brand’s reputation could be damaged.
However, if you treat your customers right, they will treat you right. One way to ensure a positive customer experience is transparency with your customers. For example, be honest at the checkout process about how long the product will take to arrive, and give customers a chance to send in reviews, pictures, and product suggestions.
#5: Build your online store the fast way.
Rather than starting from scratch with a new website, use an online store builder that already has a lot of the essential SEO and marketing features built into its core. Otherwise, you will just waste time and money developing and designing stuff that is already available in app or plug-in form. What’s more, you might even miss the boat on a great ecommerce opportunity.
There are many great ecommerce sites out there for you to choose from, and most of the market leaders have free trial periods you can try before you invest. Most of the big ecommerce platforms are also community-centric. They have online help forums and 24-hour support in case you encounter any problems. These measures are massively reassuring to small businesses who can’t afford expensive IT management contracts.
Want to see it in action? Check out this post about Shopify, including some useful ecommerce hacks to get you started with your own online store.
6#: Easy payments are essential.
As discussed, the modern online shopper is extremely price sensitive and more than happy to find a competing company to get what they want if your store doesn’t live up to their expectations.
By offering multiple payment methods you will open your store up to customers on a global scale. This factor alone will boost your conversion rate significantly.
To satisfy diverse preferences, ensure that people can pay with credit cards, debit cards and PayPal. Looking forward to 2018, stay ahead of the pack by offering BPay, mobile wallet and Bitcoin payments as well.
The ecommerce market changes rapidly and the expectations of online consumers are increasing. What steps are you taking to prepare your online business for the hurdles of 2018? Let us know in the comments.
About the Author
Patrick Foster, ecommerce entrepreneur & writer
Part tech geek, part entrepreneur, with a real penchant for blogging. When I’m not coaching business owners, I am writing about topics in the industry to spread my knowledge. I love helping others to be successful!